Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Note About New Books That's Too Long to Tweet

We started carrying new books a year or two into our now approximately fourteen-and-a-half year run.  The big title back then was Yann Martel's Life of Pi, and what seemed like dozens of people a day would drop into the old shop at 2418 Main to ask for it.  My standard reply -- "No, it's too recent for us to have used, you should go buy it new at [LOCAL INDEPENDENT DISCOUNT BOOKSTORE] down the road" -- felt dumb, especially with all the repetition.  Some people thanked me for the information and headed off, never to be seen again.  Others said something like, "I support you and I want to buy it here.  I don't care if it's new or used."

Enough of this, and even I got the message.  We opened a wholesale account and brought in a few Life of Pis, plus half a dozen other titles, and sold them at full price, tax off.  Sales weren't anything to cheer about, but all the original books eventually sold and we ordered some more, plus a few additional titles with what profit we made from order #1. 

A few years of this, and the front room was full of new books.  We went to 20% off on almost everything, then, a year or two later, added a two-tier discount -- 20% off in-shop/30% off prepaid special orders -- and sales abruptly went through the roof.

We -- despite me still thinking of us as the tiny neighborhood bookstore that could -- are now receiving extra discounts from most of our suppliers based on our sales volumes, which are substantial. So, as a "Thank you" to everyone who ordered from us in the early days, and then waited patiently for their books to arrive while we worked out "systems," I'm going to try an additional experiment, starting this week and running through Christmas.

Most, but not all, $30+ cover price hardcovers in all of our three locations are now 30% off in-shop, & 40% off if ordered directly from their publishers, which adds a few days to the special order process. I'm curious to see what this does to our volumes and the sort of titles ordered in.  Again, this is an experiment, and I reserve the right to cancel or modify it at any time.  But it should make for an interesting next few months.